Thai elephant: From national emblem to cheerful unemployed

From intricately designed temples to one of Thailand's most famous beers, the Thai elephants are definitely a star. Chang, meaning elephant, is the national animal of Thailand. And like many other businesses, in Covid-19, the elephants are also unemployed. Only thing, they seem happier unemployed.

There are a number of reasons why this giant animal was chosen as the national symbol of Thailand . One of the main reasons is that the Thai people celebrate the incredible strength, durability and longevity of the elephant.

Thai elephants raised in zoos or sanctuaries will often rely on visitor visits. Tourism creates a huge budget in maintaining the zoo's operation as well as providing food for the animals.
 


The Thai elephants are also not out of the epidemic COVID 19


Thailand national symbol

The white elephant (actually more pink in color) is the symbol of Thai royalty. According to Buddhist tradition, on the eve of Buddha's birthday, his mother had a dream and was given a lotus flower by a white elephant. White elephants are very revered. It was even on the Thai flag until the early 1900s. Because white elephants are extremely rare, they are only used for royal duties.
 


Elephants are known to be the national symbols of Thailand 

Thai elephants played a major role as early as the late 1500s. The Thais used the sheer size and strength of the elephant to fight the Burmese, Malay and Khmer to defend the kingdom. Elephant is very important in Thai culture , so if you are given an elephant, you need to take care of it like a pet. Raising them was hard and expensive though.

In addition to participating in the battles of Thailand, elephants have been put to work across the country for generations. From pulling teak to logging the jungles in the north, elephants are used instead of machines. Elephants are trained until about 10 years old before they are actually put to work and they retire at about 60 years old.
 


Thailand has banned the use of elephants in heavy work since 1989 

Sadly, the number of Thai elephants has decreased from about 100,000 to less than 5,000 since the beginning of the 20th century. As elephants are no longer used for heavy work (banned in 1989), they "shifted" to tourism. schedule and forced to take guests to walk through the forest or perform in front of a crowd.

Elephants are found in forests all over Thailand. Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, in the provinces of Uthai Thani, Tak and Kanchanaburi, reports an increase in elephant numbers in the area. Most of the elephants shelter in national parks across Thailand as they gradually lose their natural habitat, due to poaching and logging.

In fact, the fact that elephants work in tourism has been controversial for many years. It is thought that elephants only move from one "exploited" state to another. However, if you travel to Thailand and go to protected areas, you will help protect the elephant. The activities with elephants there have very limited direct impact or scare them.


When Corona became an issue

The Covid-19 translation has made tourism around the world in general and the country "Million Elephants" in particular wobbly, which means stopping the source of income of the reserves, leading to the consequences of elephants " unemployment".
 


The epidemic pushed the Thai elephants into unemployment 

For commercial elephant rearing or sanctuaries, tourists are a source of funding for them to stay afloat. Limiting tourism due to the pandemic makes these areas unable to resist. Therefore, more than 100 species of animals have traveled 150km long to "return home" of them. 
 


The elephants are in danger due to lack of food in protected areas

Currently, the situation is becoming very serious. As many as 2,000 domesticated elephants are at risk of starvation because protected area owners are no longer able to keep them without customers, according to data released by the UK-based World Animal Conservation Society. 
 

What will Thai elephants look like after being unemployed?

The elephant conservation group is concerned that the crisis will lead to severe mistreatment of elephants as the custodian attempts to monetize them. They can sell them to Burmese zoos or make them join circus troupes (This was banned in Thailand in 1989). 
 

The danger of being mistreated or illegally sold abroad can appear with elephants in Thailand 



The life buoy of the Thai elephants

Since April 2020, Thai elephants have been "parading" from all over Chiang Mai province to return to their homeland of Mae Chaem, where the Karen ethnic group lives. This is a rural area of ​​Thailand that has a tradition of raising elephants. 
 

The SEF Elephant Conservation Union in northern Chiang Mai province, Thailand, has made efforts to bring the elephants back to their home green fields, instead of continuing to starve to death in protected areas. Saeng Duean Chailert, SEF founder, said the project to bring the "unemployed" elephants back to their roofs has been launched in response to calls for help from protected area owners. The foundation encourages the elephants to settle in a place where there are friendly villagers and a more natural environment.

The actual situation shows that many protected areas and zoos are abusing the health of animals, overexploiting their ability to attract tourism. At the same time, they also do not get the right food and environment.

 

Join hands to bring Thai elephants home

Sadudee Serichevee, currently living in Chiang Mai province, is the one raising four elephants. However, the plague has left his family unable to pay monthly fees of up to 200,000 baht to rent land and provide elephant food. The average adult elephant eats up to 300kg of grass and vegetables per day. So he decided to let the elephant return to Ban Huay Bong village.

However, transporting elephants safely home alone is not a simple thing. Therefore, Mr. Sadudee teamed up with a number of different elephant breeders to walk 150km together to bring the elephants back safely. The "parade" consists of 11 elephants and their owners have walked on a variety of terrain, from hills to dirt roads before reaching Ban Huay Bong in the joy of the people here. 
 


The joy of giant animals - Elephant Thailand

After 20 years, these elephants have a chance to return home. They express their happiness by happily "running and jumping" and playing with the kids in the village. Outside of Chiang Mai province, the “Thai elephants return day” project is also taking place in Northeast Surin, famous for its annual elephant festivals. These elephants were brought to the district of Tha Tum, where hundreds of their species live.


While the course of the disease is unpredictable, the Thai elephants can temporarily rest assured that animal conservation organizations do not abandon them. “We don't know when COVID 19 will disappear,” said Ms. Saeng Duean. So we have a duty to rescue elephants that have been "fired" by the disease. "
 

Building a future environment for Thai elephants

Members of the organization are working hard to petition the government for land so that local people can grow their own crops to feed themselves as well as provide food for Thai elephants. In addition, they can also earn revenue by selling agricultural products. The proceeds from this will contribute to other costs to feed the elephants during this difficult period.  


It is thought that bringing elephants back to villages means returning them to the wild and letting them live on their own. In fact, the domesticated elephants have been away from the natural habitat for so long that they are no longer able to defend themselves and feed like a wild elephant. Therefore, the natural environment here does not mean a completely primeval forest, but instead is natural under great human influence. 
 

Corona pandemic like a powerful blow to all aspects of human life. Therefore, the domesticated animals are also affected. Now is the time we need to study Thailand, so that not only Thai elephants but all animals in above conditions are saved and preserved. Traveling to Vietnam appoints you a day to visit Thai elephants when the epidemic is over.

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